While waiting for my burrito at La Victoria, a young man working the counter picked up the phone and grabbed his note pad. "Two Zack Attacks," he confirmed, and then asked if it was "Zack" himself on the line. It was. Vicky was in the back, spooning a big wad of refried beans onto a flour tortilla before she rolled it up and tossed it on the grill. When it was plated she gently brushed her hand over the desk bell, which emitted a soft and distant chime.
Zach Madsen walked through the door 10 minutes later while I was forking my way through a bean and egg burrito drenched in red salsa. Madsen sat at the counter while he waited for his food, and I asked him if he had anything to do with the burrito, which almost bears his name. He told me of his first visit to La Victoria almost seven years ago. He'd just moved to the neighborhood and was looking for a breakfast joint where he could put down roots. Back then the hangover cure cost $1.25 -- a price that borders lunacy. (It's still less than three bucks.)
Madsen used to order three burritos every Saturday back then. Now he gets two, eating one to soothe his hangover, while stowing the second in his fridge for Sunday morning -- the best sort of motivation to drag yourself from bed. He's ordered the combination of bacon, potatoes, eggs, beans and jalapeño for so long Vicky put his name on the menu, exchanging a "k" for an "h," because it looked better that way. Vicky thinks the burrito would be better with cheese, but Madsen won't listen. Besides, Vicky puts cheese on everything.
Meanwhile my first burrito was almost gone, and I was seduced by the story. I put in an order for a Zack Attack of my own as Madsen patted my back and slipped out the door. I waited another 10 minutes before Vicky's butterfly palm stroked the bell again.
The Zack Attack delivers exactly what it promises. Dense refried beans and airy potatoes with eggs, bacon and the occasional sliver of jalapeño that bursts with fresh, green heat. It's filling (especially when it's your second burrito of the morning) and comforting, but a little bland. Vicky was right. It needed cheese.
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